Morrison: proven unfit as PM

Scott Morrison is unfit to be Prime Minister. His inaction in the lead-up to the bushfire crisis and his later response to it reveals this. The Hawaii holiday might have been just survivable but the handshake debacles, the refusal to change course and the Liberal Party’s cliché-ridden advertisement spruiking the Government’s “action” on the bushfires and calling for donations to, not the bushfire appeal, but the to Liberal Party, cement the conclusion.

This is akin to Mark Latham’s bullish handshake with John Howard or Alexander Downer’s glib undergraduate reference to the domestic violence element of his own party’s campaign’s stress on “things that matter” as “things that batter”.

When you look at the seriousness that Fraser, Hawke, Keating and Howard brought to the prime ministerial task, Morrison does not cut it. He is just a grab bag of slogans and PR mush. He is happy to apply any slogan or fake news to win an instant cheap point against his opponents or to try to justify the unjustifiable. He got away with it in May. It was not a miracle. It was just that Australians were not paying enough attention to see through the PR charlatan.

In the heat of an election, glib PR slogans, while people are a bit turned off, can pull off a “miracle”. But when reality bites and people’s attention is riveted, they see through this. 

An increasing number of Australians must now be feeling utterly duped by the Liberal and National climate-science deniers. The crime of the deniers in the Coalition and the failure of others in the Coalition to bring them to heel is that they made it respectable and tenable for ordinary Australian voters to hold a climate-denial position. 

They could hold that position at social functions and family conversations with head held high because the Treasurer brought a lump of coal into Parliament and because the selfish profiteering fossil-fuel industry provided them with any number of specious science-denying arguments which good political leaders should have put to rest.

It is going to be very hard for those Australians who bought in to this rubbish to find a self-respecting way out. So those who did not get duped, should go easy on any “I told you so stuff”, it will only make it harder for people to accept the reality of global heating and the need for action.

The primary task of a Prime Minister is national security. But when Morrison was warned by a host of former fire chiefs in November 2018 that subsequent seasons like the 2019-20 fire season were set to be unprecedented horrors he ignored them because it might look like he was taking global heating seriously. Their predictions, just like the predictions of climate scientists, turned out to be deadly accurate.

A Prime Minister and Government are supposed to act to protect the nation. Of course, no amount of action by Australia alone would have prevented the fires. But because of a decade of Coalition climate-science denial and inadequate emissions-reduction policy we are in no position to urge the rest of the world to do more, which we now must do because this dry continent is almost as vulnerable to the effects of global heating as the Pacific islands. We should be at the forefront of action. And it makes economic sense to be a renewable-energy leader.

But, no, the Coalition preferred to do anything to protect the profits of the fossil industries.

They denied the planet was heating, until the facts were obvious. Then they denied humans had anything to do with it. And now even if they acknowledge that humans are to blame, they say that Australia’s part is so small that it is pointless for us to bother. Or they say the costs are too great.

But the costs of not acting and setting an example to the world are far greater. Burning fossil fuel for electricity and oil for transport should be phased out as quickly as possible. 

It requires a change of thinking, by voters and politicians.

The Vietnam War is a good analogy. The Liberal Prime Ministers Menzies, Holt and McMahon sent young conscripted Aussie boys to die in a fruitless war that had nothing to do with their world view that communism was about to take over the world, including Australia. Twaddle. Labor opposed the war from the beginning despite its initial popularity.

This is why Labor must now double down on climate policy, not walk away.

Global heating is more serious than Vietnam. This massive bushfire season should cause a change in thinking. But it does not seem to be happening. Morrison refuses to change Australia’s emissions policy.

The fossil apologist Coalition MP Craig Kelly humiliated and embarrassed Australia on British prime-time television and drew the world’s attention to the weakness and selfishness of our climate policy.

These terrible fires have not resulted in one mea culpa among the Coalition science deniers.

This is why Morrison is not fit to be Prime Minister. John Howard faced with the crisis of Port Arthur changed his world view and called in the guns against the hardcore objections of his key rural constituents. Hawke and Keating faced with massive world economic changes changed their whole policy outlook and broke down protectionism against the hardball objections of core-constituency union vested interests.

Malcolm Fraser faced down the white-is-right view of the world held by most in his party and did more than any Commonwealth of Nations leader to end apartheid in South Africa.

Even Kevin Rudd, faced with world economic meltdown, had the guts to go against the grain and listen to public-service advice to put cash into people’s hands. And Australia avoided recession.

Glib, marketing, sloganeering will get you by when not many people are watching, even in an election campaign, but when a crisis hits, like the bushfire crisis, they hold no water.

You can see the pattern of good Australian leadership. It happens when the leader has the guts to put aside all previously held views to meet the new event. Howard told his gun-totting National Party mates, sorry, no longer tenanable. Fraser told his establishment white chappies, sorry, no longer tenable. Hawke and Keating told their union mates, sorry, no longer tenable.

But this gutless, miracle-believing, market-driven prime minister without an ounce of spine to call Craig Kelly and the science-denying National Party out has missed his moment. The bushfires could have been his road to Damascus, instead, judging by his reactions, they are to be a road to hell paved by inadequate good intentions.

Scotty from Marketing, history has dealt you this card. It is bigger than Howard and the sporting shooters; Fraser and the white chaps or Hawke and Keating and their union mates. The choice is yours: go down with the fossil-fuellers as a nobody or rise to the occasion. Announce a quick transition to zero carbon and ways to get there or be a nothing Prime Minister.

But, unlike earlier leaders, it already seems Morrison has decided to make no changes, despite the threat to Australia’s security. And that is why he is unfit to be Prime Minister.

Crispin Hull

This article first appeared in The Canberra Times and other Australian media on 11 January 2020.

13 thoughts on “Morrison: proven unfit as PM”

  1. Scomo is not only failing to reduce emissions that will reduce future catastrophic risk, but he is deceiving and lying about with a poker face. He said in a Thursday 9 Jan 7:30 interview: “I think we should be meeting and beating our targets and that is exactly what we are doing and I think that point is often lost…I think one of the unfortunate things of the last few weeks has been the deliberate attempt to create a polarisation on this issue. There isn’t one when it comes to the actions of the government. The government accepts the need to take action on climate change and we are.”

    Emissions from 2019 are exceeding the annual budgets our environment department has set to comply with:

    KYOTO 2 99.5% of 1990 emissions over 2013-2020 and a 2020 target of 95% of 2005 emissions. While we are forecast to be under budget by 283 mt over the period, our actual/forecast emissions line went above the budget line in 2019 and 2020.

    Paris commitment, less than 74% of 2005 emissions by 2030. The budget compared to forecast in Million tonnes is:
    2021 budget 504; forecast 524
    2022 budget 498; forecast 522
    2023 budget 492; forecast 521
    2024 budget 486; forecast 517
    2025 budget 481; forecast 516
    2026 budget 475; forecast 514
    2027 budget 469; forecast 513
    2028 budget 463; forecast 515
    2029 budget 458; forecast 515
    2030 budget 451; forecast 512

    The cumulative overbudget emissions for the 10 year period is 395 mt.

  2. Thank you, Crispin, you are so right in writing this. Thank you so much! I have posted your article on my FB page. We are all devastated by what has happened. No leadership has been provided by the Federal Government. The states and the firies, the communities have led in this. I am ashamed of this Federal Government.

  3. You have nailed it again Crispin. Not only is Morrison unfit to be PM, it seems Scotty from Marketing isn’t even very good at marketing either. Or he would have known how to turn this disaster into an opportunity. But he didn’t. He has not got a clue. He’s out of his depth.

  4. Mr Crispin Hull for PM ! Everything will be alright. No more coal or petrol: we use bicycles (made of wood) or horses. We don’t sell coal to the Chineses. We cover the Simpson desert with solar and wind turbines.

  5. OK, so Morrison isn’t fit to be PM. Some Americans say Trump isn’t fit to be president. But that facts are that Australia is stuck with Scomo and the US is stuck with Trump (probably through a second term because the Democrat candidates are hopeless).
    What to do about Morrison? Not much politically because he won’t be moved. None of his acolytes will challenge him. What will change is the nation’s attitude to the fires and global warming. This is the biggest wake up call we have ever faced. Everything must change. If Morrison wants a Royal Commission it’ll have to be warts and all. No restrictive terms of reference; no arse covering. If there is the country will see though it. If Morrison is too dumb to see that he’ll suffer the consequences (‘no’ 26 times to calls for a Royal Commission on the banks…!)

  6. Honest, considered, mature, non-partisan assessment of why Scomo is unfit for high office. Thankyou.
    Ignoring the will of the electorate gets nowhere, viz, gay rights where everyone knew what was ‘right’ but had to jump LNP hurdles to have it expressed.

  7. Hi Crispin.
    Back off on the PR bashing. Your bashing is as cliched as saying all PR people are spin doctors. The real spin doctors are the pollies and their ex-journalist media advisers – and none of them would know how to do real PR in a month of the proverbial. And in case you’ve forgotten the research., something like 45%-70-% of legitimate news stories published in the daily media come from PR sources.

  8. Thanks Mr Hull. I hope Mr Morrison and all aspiring political leaders in Australia read this and have the intelligence and courage to abandon hubris and take up the challenge with humility.

  9. Read you article on PM; mate you got it wrong; locals know who is to blame and it is not PM; Pub talk is pretty vocal about Local Councils and State Governments. I was in South Coast during fires and most people could see media and commentators over the top criticism of PM – shame politics gets priority!

    Locals tell me:
    1. now fuel no fire;
    2. reduced fuel through cool months burning reduces intensity of fires;
    3. fire breaks stop spread of fires from one area of bush to adjoining area of bush.

    It is not rocket science it is lack of common sense that has grabbed our action afraid Local Councils and State Governments.
    This emergency showed that these two branches are not up to it.

  10. To follow on from your column this morning, readers would be interested to know which electorates were worst affected. How about talking to all the members from these federal electorates and ask what they think of Scomo’s leadership and whether they are going to challenge party policy on climate? Must be some Nats among them – wonder what they think of Barnaby.

  11. Thanks for this piece – it expresses the views of many people so well (including me!). One thing hard to fathom is that a ‘market guy’ like Morrison should be able to see the opportunity provided by the fires to dig themselves out of a climate change denialist policy that is clearly not working. The fact he is choosing to just keep digging means he must either a) not be very bright, or b) be dancing to the tune of unseen forces – aka the coal lobby. Or possibly both. Either way, the conclusion of your article remains – he is unfit to be PM.


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